The Leeds Town Hall had an air raid shelter and a British Restaurant in the cellar during the war. British Restaurants existed in cities across Britain, and were an attempt to ensure the provision of wholesome meals for the populace. Leeds British Restaurant may have been open 24 hours during the war, though I haven't found confirmation of this. It closed in 1966, though is reportedly still physically existent, now used for storage.
Kings Hall which was viewed to be used as a British Restaurant.
On the 16th April 1942, Councillor Sturzaker reviewed the negotiations to date in connection with the conversion of King's Hall, Rishton, for use as a British Restaurant. It was resolved that a Sub-Committee was appointed to consider the adaptability of the building and that the Sub-Committee consisted of the Chairman of the Council and Councillors Kenyon, Leeming, Sanderson and Sturzaker.
British Restaurants supplied another almost universal experience of eating away from me. Here a three course meal cost only 9d. Standards varied, but the best were greatly appreciated and had a large regular clientele. British Restaurants were run by local authorities, who set them up in a variety of different premises such as schools and church halls. They evolved from the LCC’s Londoners’ Meals Service which originated in September 1940 as a temporary, emergency system for feeding those who had been bombed out. By mid-1941 the LCC was operating two hundred of these restaurants. Records of this service are in the LMA, among those of the Restaurant and Catering Department in LCC/RC/GEN. LCC/RC/GEN/2/1, for example, relates to negotiations to take over the Bun House Restaurant, 111 High Holborn WC 1 - ‘practically facing Holborn Tube Station’- from March 1943. The LCC already ran a British Restaurant in Princeton Street nearby and required different premises. They rejected Slaters at 55-6 High Holborn as too badly damaged and the Express Dairy, 294 Holborn, as too small. Records for British Restaurants beyond the LCC area are scarce. Hertfordshire RO has some menu books for the restaurant in Rickmansworth - strictly speaking outside the Greater London borders, but only just - in ACC 2908.
British Restaurants were open to all, but mainly served office and industrial workers. The one in Standard Road, Acton, catered for nearby factories without their own canteens. In January 1943 the Acton Gazette reported that the local Food Executive Officer had criticised it as inadequate - ‘Workpeople do not like the place’, they wrote, there had been ‘quite a number of complaints’. Taking up the cudgels on behalf of his borough’s catering sub-committee, the Town Clerk wrote to the Food Executive Officer to protest that eight hundred people regularly patronised the Restaurant quite contentedly. The F. E. O. denied any slur on the borough’s arrangements, saying he had been misreported. The Acton Borough Minutes, November 1942-3, contain further details.
Londoners proved fonder of British Restaurants and their equivalents than did inhabitants of the rest of the country. The Wartime Social Survey monitored public attitudes to food and rationing in some depth between February 1942 and October 1943, presenting the results in the report ‘Food during the war’ by Gertrude Wagner (PRO RG 23/9a). They found that in the main people had accepted rationing, would not object if it continued after the war, and welcomed price control in this context.
The Trustees of Mary Street School were approached with a view to making arrangements for the use of part of that building as a temporary British Restaurant by Rishton Urban District Council on the 14th May 1942. By the 21st May in the same year, A report was made on proposed premises for a British Restaurant. It was resolved that a Sub-Committee, consisting of Councillors Kenyon, Leeming and Worsley, with the Clerk and Surveyor, be appointed with power to act to enter into negotiations with the Ministry of Food.
Mary Street (above picture) was also viewed with a view to use as a Restaurant.
Negotiations proceeded on the 2nd June 1942, with a view to the use of the Skating Rink as a British Restaurant. The Council Clerk reported upon the progress made in the establishment of a British Restaurant on the 11th June. Resolved that a deputation, consisting of the Chairman and Councillors Bridge and Kenyon, meet Mr. H. Cornthwaite with a view to discussing certain terms in connection with the Skating Rink.
On the 11th August 1942, The Council Surveyor presented to the Committee the completed Plans and Bills of Quantities for the adaptation of the Skating Rink, High Street, Rishton, as a British Restaurant. The Council resolved;
that the layout submitted be approved and
that a grant of £2 2s. 0d. be paid to Mr. J. Lord for services rendered in connection with the preparation of the plan.
On the 10th September 1942, The Council Chairman reported upon a visit to the North-Western Regional Office of the Ministry of Food concerning the British Restaurant.
On the 12th November 1942, Matters concerning the British Restaurant were further reported upon. Resolved that a letter be addressed to Lord Woolton drawing attention to the difficulties which have been experienced in the establishment of a British Restaurant in this district.
Resolved that the Clerk investigate and report further on the establishment of a British Restaurant on the 21st January 1943, particularly from the financial point of view.
On the 11th February 1943 it was resolved that sanction be sought from the Ministry of Food to requisition the Skating Rink for use as a British Restaurant.
On the 4th March 1943, The Clerk read correspondence from the Ministry of Food concerning the establishment of a British Restaurant in Rishton. Resolved that Councillors Bradshaw and Worsley, with the Clerk interview the District Valuer on the question of the premises to be used and that the matter be further considered at a later meeting.
The Clerk reported upon the findings of the deputation appointed to visit the District Valuer on Friday, the 5th March 1943, concerning the question of requisitioning premises for use as a British Restaurant. Correspondence and an interview with the Ministry of Food official concerned, were also reported. Resolved that an advertisement be inserted in the local "Advertiser" in order to obtain the evidence of local need for a British Restaurant as required by the Ministry.
On the 8th April 1943, The Clerk reported upon the response to the advertisement regarding the demand for a British Restaurant in Rishton. Resolved that a further advertisement be inserted, amended as suggested.
The Council Clerk reported on the response to the second advertisement regarding the demand for a British Restaurant on the 13th May 1943. The Council resolved that the project to establish a British Restaurant be dropped.
The Council Surveyor reported upon the premises at 52, High Street and stated that they were unsuitable for conversion for use as a feeding centre or British Restaurant on the 10th June1943.